For my birthday, I want something big. I don't deserve much, but nothing I deserve is worth wanting. Maybe I'd want every beautiful person in Hollywood to call me up and confirm my suspicions that they are exactly like the rest of us. I want Jennifer Love Hewitt to tell me she got in catfights in high school and her best friend's stepfather popped her cherry. I want Kate Hudson to confess that she, too, makes weird faces in the john when she's constipated. I want to know about the boob jobs and the awkward phases and the bad breakups. For my birthday, I don't want a subscription to YM or Teen People or The Enquirer.

I want a journalist to tell me he's spent his whole life telling stories with only a skeletal system of truth. I want a new definition for sensationalism. I want a new dictionary with the words I don't like cut out. I want a book composed of only verbs, nouns, and adjectives. I want a population of Americans who know not to trust what they read. I want a six o'clock news that does stories on people who can't affect America, portraits of the stupid and the poor and the handicapped and the ignorant and the woman in the rocking chair who quilts, drools, and feeds her cats.

I want a thousand novels about a thousand different Armageddons and I want one to be right. I want a priest, a rabbi, and a Buddhist monk to walk into a bar and whoever saves the most souls becomes the next ambassador to Italy. I want a translation of the Bible in a language I can understand and I want prayer to be allowed in bus stations. I want a God that presents Himself vocally and a Messiah in the form of a self-help guru. I want to speak in tongues on camera and later explain that it was a hoax, even if it wasn't. I want my face on a shroud and my piss in a holy vial and women who'll wash my feet with their hair.

I want an education founded on sadistic, drill sergeant teachers who carry machetes in back pockets and an extra switchblade in each black boot. I want someone to stop telling me I'm the future as they hand me a survey asking when I had my first sexual experience. I want some fucking optimism in the form of an SAT proctor. I want the Internet junkies to take Spelling as an elective and I want the white kids to take Ebonics as a foreign language, just for kicks.

I want a president who doesn't care if I vote for him. I want a woman to run for governor, basing her campaign on the size of her breasts. I want drugs to be legalized, so I can feel better about being clean. I want Clint Eastwood to get elected and be assassinated on the podium as he's being sworn in. I want Canada to invade us and take over our government. This way the other countries won't hate us, our own citizens won't hate us, and we won't have to use the telethon as a counterstrike.

I want MTV to change its name to TeenTV, so they can at least claim honesty. I want musicians to start being paid in donations so albums can be free and the greedy dumbasses can figure out something else to do with their worthless lives. I want Lance Bass to fall apart in my arms and tell me he would have been better off if he'd become a hairdresser. I want album covers like movie posters with phrase-critiques from stoner fans.

For my birthday, I'm going to stop believing in pop culture. Nothing that big could really exist, could it? I want a nation of people whose lives fill their own individual worlds. How selfish of me.
© 2003 Maria Santos

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